Night Stop On The Mississippi


Here is a view from a levee with the Mississippi at flood stage, the water having risen well above the surrounding terrain. Supplies are being delivered to a prearranged landing place and will be transported away by cart.

As the river rose to flood height, the point of landing rose with it. The flat-bottomed hull of the vessel, which probably drew no more than two and a half feet of water, could easily access the levee at any point with its long stages swung out from the vessel on spars.

In this scene the small steamboat, heading north, is silhouetted against the bright moonlit sky, the aspect of the painting that sets the stage for the dark landscape below. The two item of interest-the unloading operation, helped into focus by a hand-held lamp, and the horse and cart on the lower level, picked out in the moon’s reflection on the rain-soaked track to the nearby settlement-complement each other rather than vying for attention. But all this was possible because of the fascinating character of the Mississippi steamboat, which immediately established its own identity as an essential element in America’s maritime heritage.

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